Tuesday, October 14, 2008

How Daisy Came to Stay With Me

I always like to share the story of how my dog Daisy came to live with me.

When I first met Daisy, she was swollen with milk; having just weaned her puppies - her last litter (one of the many she'd had over the past 4 years), and she was very, very scared.

Daisy, a yellow Labrador Retriever, had been brought to our shelter (the one I volunteer at) by a service organization. They had had gotten her from a puppy mill - pregnant and scared. They cared for her during her pregnancy and after the birth of her puppies. Luckily for the puppies, the group had decided to keep them to be trained as service dogs, but for Daisy this was not even a possibility. She was too terrified, and often just curled up into a ball waiting for something awful to happen to her. You see, Daisy was puppy mill breeding dog, everything bad had happened to her up until this point.

When I first met her on that day at the shelter, she was sitting at the back of her kennel - terrified and alone. She cowered in my presence and refused to make eye contact. When I raised my hand to unlock the kennel door, she went straight to the ground, crouching in fear, and froze. It was easy to get the leash on her, but getting her to walk to the door to go outside was a slow process and required slow movements.

I walked her, with much difficulty, around the shelter property. She was so scared that she mostly walked low, slunk to the ground, and she would freeze at any sound - or if I made any sudden movements. I avoided talking to her; hoping it would calm her.  It didn't.  After a short walk, I sat down on the parking lot curb outside and waited to see what she would do. Her whole body language conveyed fear and distrust - averted eyes, lowered head and body, frozen body posture, and her back kept towards me at all times. She was telling me she did not trust me, and I didn't blame her at all given her history.

I let her be for a moment as I remained seated and gave her some time to adjust to my presence. She never did. She allowed me to pet her, but I think that was only because she was too scared to move. My heart broke for her, and I knew that somehow this dog and I were going to be connected. 

I already had a wonderful older dog (Aspen) at home whom I adopted about 7 months previously. Aspen had several health issues and took a lot of time and care, but I knew that I couldn't leave this dog behind. I was afraid that she would never make it to the adoption floor given her extreme fear and lack of socialization. I also knew that I couldn't really adopt her. But I knew one thing. Somehow, I was going to make sure this dog had a fighting chance. "Perhaps I could become her foster mom" I thought, "and maybe I can help her to become an adoptable dog." It would mean taking on even more responsibility (adding another dog to my life), but I think in that moment I had already decided to give it a try. If ever there was ever a dog that needed a chance it was this extremely fearful Lab. Maybe with a little time and patience, she could be adoptable I thought.

And so, Daisy came to live (as a foster dog) with Aspen and I in November 2007, only a few days before Thanksgiving.

Little did I know at the time how much work, time and patience it would take to make her an adoptable dog, or just how much she would come to change me and my life 

1 comment:

  1. Daisy is lucky she found you. You took the time that she needed in order for her to understand that all humanity is not evil. I can't imagine the life that these dogs go to being breed over and over again at puppy mills.